Top 8 Predictions

Posted in Event Coverage on June 16, 2002

By Aaron Forsythe

Now that we know who is in the Top 8 and what decks they're playing, I figure it's time to ruminate about who will actually end up winning the tournament and who will be on the National Team.


(1) David Rood vs. (8) Boyd Hardie

David RoodRood went 6-0 in the Swiss portion of the tournament, the only person to do so. His red/green deck is solid against jus about anything. It doesn't sell out for speed with Reckless Charge, meaning it can handle other creature decks quite well. Boyd Hardie is running a slightly more eccentric concoction, red/green splashing blue for Ceta Sanctuaries.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of Ceta Sanctuary. It is possibly the most high-yield madness enabler available, and unlike Merfolk Looter, it isn't going to die to Firebolt. But the Sanctuary costs three mana, meaning a turn must be given up for future gains, and against a deck like Rood's Boyd will need to remain rooted in the present. The Sanctuary also forces Boyd to run extra painlands (10 vs. Rood's 4) and Birds of Paradise, fragile creatures that don't attack. In this new age of Firebolt and Fire/Ice, Birds of Paradise seem almost like a bad idea.

I'm not sure Ceta Sanctuary will even come into play, as any other green or red permanents – other than Meteor Storm – will be instant targets for everything Rood can throw at them. Should the game last past the first few turns and Boyd is able to deploy Arrogant Wurms and draw a few extra cards, I'm sure he'll win, but it isn't likely.

After sideboarding, they each get a couple big monsters – Boyd has Roar of the Wurm, and Rood had Jade Leech. Rood also has Hull Breaches if he thinks them necessary. The Wurm tokens might steal a game for Boyd, but not two. The painlands alone may cost Boyd this match.

Prediction: Rood advances 3-1.

(5) Richard Hoaen vs. (4) Jon Stern

Richard HoaenNeither of these players did superbly well in the constructed portion of this tournament. Hoaen went 4-2 with Eugene Harvey-like Squirrel/Opposition, and Jon Stern went a mediocre 3-3 with red/green. They can both draft, but what happens when they play constructed?

Stern's red/green deck is not ideally built to handle Opposition – it has Birds, Reckless Charge, and City of Brass. That could make the deck bad enough to lose to Opposition, a match red/green should normally win, especially if it has more burn. Opposition may lock up the main phase, but burn can bypass the lock, and Stern's deck is a little lacking in that department. He doesn't have Simoon in his sideboard, either, a card that has proven its usefulness against Opposition at various times throughout the tournament. What he does have, however, is four Yavimaya Barbarians and two Engulfing Flames main, both of which are good, if not great, against Hoaen. His sideboard options include 3 Hull Breaches, 3 Spellbane Centaurs, another Flames, and a Thunderscape Battlemage, but I can't see how he's supposed to squeeze it all in. He also has Shivan Wurm as some sort of back-up plan, but the five mana fatty seems poor against Opposition.

Hoaen is running one more land than Harvey, a good idea considering the expected life spans of Birds and Elves in this metagame, but otherwise the deck is the same. I expect Fire/Ice should come up big, at least in Game 1, since Stern is running more than the normal number of 1-toughness guys in red/green. The relevant sideboard cards for Hoaen look to be the fourth FTK, one Jade Leech (I'm sure he wishes it were more), and two Unnatural Selections. If the Selection comes out without losing Hoaen too much tempo, it could end up being very important.

Prediction: Hoaen in a 3-2 squeaker.

(1) Sam Lau vs. (6) Ray Weiss

Lau is the lone Psychatog player in the top 8, and I'm sure he wishes he was facing red/green. Lau defeated two red/green decks in Feature Matches on day one, proving Psychatog can handle just about anything. Anything, that is, except Squirrel/Opposition.

If Weiss has tested this matchup, he should dismantle Lau. Lau's sideboard contains no type of new anti-Squirrel tech in the wake of US Nationals, and Weiss holds a 4-0 edge on Deep Analysis in the main deck.

Prediction: Weiss 3-0, no problem

(7) Jurgen Hahn vs. (2) Jeff Cunningham

Jurgen HahnThis is a tough match to figure out – Cunningham's "JSS Red/Green" versus Hahn's U/G/R madness machine. Each player has a few things working against him.

Hahn's mana base is shaky; ten painlands will take a toll on any man's life total. The double-(triple)-red Violent Eruption is a bear to cast, even with madness. Merfolk Looter, the key cog in the machine, is dead before it ever taps most of the time. And without madness, his deck is just a bunch of Durkwood Boars and Pyrotechnics.

Cunningham will have problems with Arrogant Wurm. Sure, he has Flametongues and Eruptions, but there will be plenty of other targets and he might not have the luxury of saving them. Yavimaya Barbarian is particulary terrible in this matchup; it is nothing but a hard-to-cast bear. And with no way to generate even a little bit of card advantage, like Hahn's Ice and Looters, Cunningham has to live and die by the top of his deck.

Cunningham may with the first game just on the steadiness of his mana base, but after sideboarding, Hahn gets Roar of the Wurm, a card red/green has a really difficult time stopping. Cunningham has his own undercosted fatty in the form of Gurzigost, but Circular Logic makes a mockery of late-game spells in this match.

In all honesty, this is a tough one to call – he who draws the most Mongrels wins – but all signs on paper point to a Hahn victory.

Prediction: Hahn 3, Cunningham 2.

So the four players qualified for Worlds will be Rood, Hoaen, Weiss, and Hahn.


(1) David Rood vs. (5) Richard Hoaen

The lack of Reckless Charge, Birds of Paradise, and City of Brass in Rood's deck fixes the holes that Stern's deck had against Opposition. Instead, Rood has Violent Eruptions, Fiery Temper, and Urza's Rage. As long as Rood can get a few points in with creatures, the burn should finish Hoaen off, regardless of Opposition.

After boarding, Rood still has no Simoon, so there will be no two-mana Wrath of God. I expect Rood to side in Engulfing Flames and Hull Breaches potentially, all of which help. Hoaen will be lamenting his lack of fatties in the board, and may be forced to try and win with Unnatural Selection again. But the burn will be too much in the end.

Prediction: Rood wins 3-1.

(6) Ray Weiss vs. (7) Jurgen Hahn

In this battle of green/blue/red, edge goes to madness. The early game should be about getting Merfolk Looter advantage, and Hahn's deck has many more ways of removing an enemy Looter than Weiss's.

Hahn will have to ration his Circular Logics, saving them for Opposition almost exclusively unless the board is empty. Squirrel Nest might seem like a problem, but Violent Eruptions and trampling Arrogant Wurms should be able to punch through. Opposition is the real problem, turning Birds and Squirrel tokens into straight-up matches for Wurms and Mongrels.

Sideboarding will be dodgy business; I expect Hahn's Gainsays to be much more useful than Weiss's. Hahn will also be bringing in the Hull Breaches, especially if he loses to Nest, so maybe his deck will become too watered down to function. Weiss may be tempted to bring in the Simoons against the Looters and Rootwallas, and I can't say whether or not that would be the right decision without significant testing.

In any event, I expect Hahn to win on the backs of his Looters.

Prediction: Hahn 3, Weiss 1

Finals: (1) David Rood vs. (7) Jurgen Hahn

For all the same reasons that Hahn beat Cunningham, I expect him to beat Rood. Four sideboarded games with access to Roar of the Wurm is just too much for red/green to handle.

Rood does have the ability to turn sideboarding into a guessing game with his Ensnaring Bridges and Meteor Storms. He needs to try and trick Hahn into sideboarding Hull Breaches when there are no targets, and no Hull Breaches when he's facing Bridges and Storms. Circular Logic gives Hahn an out should he be caught without Breaches, so I don't think this trick will be enough to save Rood.

Prediction: Jurgen Hahn is Canadian Nation Champion, 3-1.

3rd-4th Playoff: (5) Richard Hoaen vs. (6) Ray Weiss

This is almost an exact Squirrel/Opposition mirror match. After sideboarding, I give Weiss a very small edge (read: three Simoon vs. two), even though Weiss has no Hull Breaches. But Hoaen has showed some excellent gamesmanship this weekend, and for some reason I expect him to pull it out.

Prediction: Hoaen makes the team, 3-2.

So the Canadian National Team will be Jurgen Hahn, David Rood, and Richard Hoaen, with Ray Weiss as the alternate for Worlds. Should it play out this way, there's a good chance Weiss will be representing Canada in Sydney, as Hahn has stated he has no interest in or plans to go to Worlds, even if he wins.

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